Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman says she felt unsafe while being sexualized as a child actress

Actress Natalie Portman, 39, says that she often felt unsafe as a child actress when being sexually objectified by older men.

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According to the New York Post, Portman — who has been working in the entertainment industry since she was at least 12 years old — said that she feels being sexualized as a child in Hollywood crippled her sexuality as an adult.

During a Monday podcast with fellow actor Dax Shepard, Portman revealed that being sexualized as a child actress made her afraid.

"Being sexualized as a child took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid," the Oscar winner told Shepard during his "Armchair Expert" podcast. "So many people had this impression of me that I was super serious and prude and conservative as I got older. I consciously cultivated that because it was a way to make me feel safe."

When Portman was 16 years old, she was offered the role of "Lolita" in a production based on Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 book of the same name. She said she turned down the role due to the explicit underage sexual content.

"At that age you have to do your own sexuality, and you have to do your own desire, and you do want to explore those things," she said. "But you don't feel safe necessarily. You build these fortresses."

She explained, "I was definitely aware of the fact that I was being portrayed — mainly in kind of journalism around when the movies would come out — as like this Lolita figure. ... I've actually talked about it, I wrote a thing about it for the Women's March a few years ago about how being sexualized as a child I think took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid. It made me feel like the way that I could be safe was to be like, 'I'm conservative and I'm serious and you should respect me and I'm smart and don't look at me that way.'"

Portman added that as a child actress, she was forced to build virtual fortresses in order to keep herself safe.

"You're told as a girl and a woman that you're supposed to want to [be objectified], and that it's a good thing, people finding you attractive or people thinking you're sexy," she continued. "These words that we use around young girls in particular — and then it's complicated because it doesn't necessarily always make you feel good or feel safe. You do have your own sexuality and your own desire, and you do want to explore things, and you do want to be open, but you don't feel safe necessarily when there's, like, older men that are, like, interested. You're like 'No, no, no, no.'"

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